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Elections officials seek probe of Senate candidate's campaign reports

The Erie County Board of Elections has asked Albany authorities to investigate “potential campaign finance violations” by the committee supporting Democrat Shaqurah Zachery’s unsuccessful campaign for the State Senate in 2018.

In rare bipartisan action, Republican Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr joined with Democrat Jeremy J. Zellner in posing questions about Zachery’s Democratic primary challenge against Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy last September. The local commissioners have asked the State Board of Elections to probe a series of loans the candidate made to her campaign totaling $34,742.

Zellner and Mohr note that the candidate’s campaign finance reports do not report if or how the campaign loan was spent.

“If those funds were spent on the reported liabilities and loans,” they wrote, “it does not account for the additional $51,399.71 reported expenditures.”

In a letter to Risa S. Sugarman, the state board’s chief enforcement counsel, the commissioners note $76,245 owed to Gallagher Printing of Clarence, $9,000 to Gia Consulting of Orchard Park, plus other debts.

“We believe the public has a right to know who paid for these campaign expenses and the State of New York has an interest in enforcing campaign finance law,” the commissioners wrote. “Considering the history of campaign finance abuses in Erie County, it is critical that these possible violations are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

In a December letter to the state board, Mohr and Zellner asked that the attorney general review the situation, which could lead to criminal charges.

Zachery, an attorney, said Monday the local board had “issues” with her reports and had explained how to make corrections and amendments, but did not indicate she was the subject of any possible investigation.

“If anything was not covered, it was a learning process,” she said, noting her first-time candidacy. “I didn’t have a lot of support and I learned a lot.

“I didn’t do anything incorrectly and know all will be well,” she added.

A spokesman for the State Board of Elections would offer no comment on the possible probe.

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